For many families, Saturday evening is now dominated by talent shows, and the biggest of them all is the one on good old Auntie Beeb which since 2004 has breathed the fresh breath of life in the oft-overlooked world of ballroom dancing. However, before Brucie and Tess got the nation all worked up, Harley Medcalf had taken the ballroom dancing world by storm with his innovative show Burn The Floor which has returned to London and is currently in residence in the Peacock Theatre in its latest rendition Burn the Floor, Fire in the Ballroom.
According to the World Dance Council, there are 10 official styles of ballroom dancing and they are: Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Samba, Cha-cha-cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive and over the course of two hours Burn the Floor provides fantastic examples of each of them. This is dancing like you have never seen before.
Choreographers/Directors Peta Roby and Jason Gilkison have put together a fantastic show that fuses so many musical styles in ways I couldn’t even dream of. For example, and without giving too much away, the opening sequence to Act 2 “Carmen” takes the Habanera from Bizet’s opera mashed up with “Stairway to Heaven” to produce a truncated version of the original that stays true to it, and without words radiates the passion and sensuality of the opera. A truly amazing piece that was my favourite of the evening. Having said that, it was really difficult to pick a favourite because each sequence was superb in its own right with a lot of thought being paid not only to the music and dancing but also the costume (Brett Hooper and Sharon Brown) and lighting (Scott Rogers), all of which combined to produce a memorable show. Favourite costume has to be the stunning silver sequined dress worn during Carmina Burana – another of my favourite pieces of music.
The show did not have a narrative running through it and instead consisted of various individual segments, around a single theme. I think this worked well as an idea and whilst I couldn’t discuss the technical aspects of the dancing it all looked pretty amazing from where I was sitting and the final sequence, “Ballroom Blitz” was absolutely amazing, leaving me really wanting more. Whilst most of the dancing was conventional – as you would expect if they are staying within the parameters of the World Dance Council – there were some nice touches, including something very rarely seen on the television, same-sex couples dancing at one point, which actually didn’t look at all odd and was just accepted for what it was, two people dancing beautifully together to wonderful music.
As well as the dancers – Jenna Armstrong, Arduino Bertoncello, Graziano Di Prima, Alberto Faccio, Jorja Freeman, Ben Hardwick, Pasquale La Rocca, Giada Lini, Victoria Martin, Lauren Oakley, Nancy Xu, Johannes Radebe, Gustavo Viglio and Megan Wragg – the show boasts two first-rate singers – Mikee Introna and Jessica Lingotti – and a live band – Marc Aliana, Miki Santamaria and Pat Madden – all of whom work together beautifully and really seem to love what they do. In fact their enthusiasm for ballroom dancing floods out over the edge of the stage and into the audience, as do they at times, creating a fantastically lively atmosphere that stays with you long after you leave the theatre, walk out into the real world and get the bus home.
Review by Terry Eastham
The ultimate high-voltage ballroom dance extravaganza, Burn the Floor is packed with striking choreography, heart-pounding music and breathtaking moves. Experience the phenomenal energy of 14 world-class dancers as they throw themselves into each sequence with expert skill and an infectious sense of fun.
Running Time: 2 hours
Age Restrictions: Under 5’s not admitted
Booking Until: 5th Nov 2016
Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT